Liability/Implied Consent

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by dvcochran, Jan 12, 2020.

  1. dvcochran

    dvcochran Senior Master

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    An old 2012 thread created by Bill Mattocks about Frank Demaria was recently resurrected. It got me wondering what other schools/instructors are doing to prevent such liability/actions.

    Do you incorporate a New Student Application requiring a signed release of liability? How accurately does it represent the potential contact to a student?

    Do you meet and discuss the likelihood of contact with parents? Do you include visuals of certain drills to help parents understand what they may see? (I do)

    What about things like open locker rooms with mixed ages?

    Drop off/pick up procedures?

    How do you address contact and hands-on drills if at all?

    Do you require any internal or external training of assistant instructors? Such as background checks, child training, instructor classes, etc...

    Do you hold an insurance policy for liability, LLC, or incorporate?
    If you insure, what are you limits?
    If you LLC or incorporate, what is excluded in your verbiage?

    Any and all preventive measure tools and ideas are extremely helpful everyone teaching.
     
  2. Rat

    Rat 3rd Black Belt

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    The beautiful thing i have semi lernt for english law on the a mtter is. if two people engange in a inherently dnagerous activity they basically accept the risks associated with it. And if that no longer applies, it would be a criminal issue. ie negligance/assualt.



    Thats a very poor explination of it. Somone will probbly cite it in better. But the principle is as i wrote above, i belive it has a latin name for the concept/law structure. Where as i think in some places they dont, so schools etc have to get a set type of insurance for it.


    I would say, for at least england or logically speaking, if you attend a martial arts school, you have implied some degree of contact. ie somone correcting you for forms. I would iamgine sparring requires explicit consent. but then if you make it policy/a point to ask before you touch somone if its all right to touch them, then the issue is mitigated. I have seena few isntances on video of people asking before they correct somone. plus that just seems like a respectable thing to do beforehand, as they could have a non visable injury and you could inflame the issue or cause pain.


    I belive instructors have to have X amount of qualfiications to teach in england anyway, like somone needs a first aid cert, i belive they need to be DBS checked (at least every org does a DBS check for their instructors, if its not a law) and most would do children safe guarding units as well i iamgine. I know cadets have to go through safeguarding classes, so i cant imagine a big org wouldnt have their registered isntructors go through them. (if they plan to teach children)


    Oh, i forgot, i recall having to sign a insurance waiver basically saying i get XYZ settlements if XYZ happens to me. I think thats a seperate insurance type to the one i detailed above about the inter personal issues, or is maybe just a safe guarding mesure. ie if i loose a tooth i get X amount of money.



    No idea how one would do locker rooms, not really gone to a proper place, and most show up changed, or just comendeer a room/toilet to change in. And then the age groups is generally 13+ for adults. I imagine if you just age and sex segregate any changing routine/facilties it would work fine. Most peopel should show up mostly dressed in what ever uniform as far as i have seen. And if a adult has any issues with such a thing they would probbly just show up changed, or to the degree they are comfortable in. (by that i mean, they show up only needing to use the facilties to say change jacket, or something like that)

    The brackets i can think of is: 12-15, 16-17, 18+ and as stated before seperate into male and female. and if there are any issues, they could go after or before everyone, or steal a toilet if you have some of the room stall ones about.


    Kind of rambely, but i ramble as should be apparnt. :p
     
  3. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    There is a BIG, BIG difference between what you're describing, and a martial arts school (especially one in which kids are involved). Please don't give people legal advice.
     
  4. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    We do have such an application. It's been several years since I've signed it, so I couldn't tell you how specific it is.

    Parents are encouraged to watch a class before signing their kid up. Most stay and watch class regularly, at least for the beginner belts.

    We don't have an open locker room, so I can't speak from personal experience. Most people show up in their uniform, or change in a single-stall bathroom or closet. I would imagine that policies for an all-age locker room would be similar to a place like the YMCA.

    For drop off, we don't have a specific procedure. However, if a parent would drop off their kid and they were the only ones there, I would ask they stay until another parent arrived. I really didn't like the parents who would do a drive-by drop-off (where they would be out of the parking lot before the kid is in the door), especially when it meant it was just me with the kid.

    For pick up, we require that the child wait inside the dojang until their parents are there to pick them up. If they don't see their parents from the door, we don't let them out into the parking lot to look. Their parents can come in and get them.

    On a related subject, if someone walks into the dojang that we don't know, one of the instructors will ask who they're there for. After they name the kid and relation (i.e. "I'm John's uncle") I will then go and ask the kid "do you know that person?" If they're just there to check out classes, then my Master or his wife will talk to them. During the few weeks where they were on vacation and I was in charge, I was instructed to simply take their information and then have them leave and come back when my Master or his wife were there, for child safety purposes.

    For children white and yellow belts, contact is very minimal. The most contact white belts will have is blocking a big block of foam. Yellow belts will practice punching defenses, but will only practice against instructors. Purple belts get sparring gear. By the time they order the gear, they will have seen full contact sparring.

    Whenever we have a new student, there's something 90% of the parents do. They pick up the students' belt, look at the student's waist with the same look I give my car engine when the "check engine" light is on (all I can do is check if the engine is there), and then try and figure out how to tie the belt. In this case, I'll ask the parent if I can help them, and before I tie the belt on the student I'll ask "is it okay if I tie this for you?" Once the students are familiar with me, I just tell them "arms up" and then tie the belt.

    For adults, they will practice punch defense and hand grabs against each other. Contact is still minimal until purple belt.

    It's state law before working with kids to have the background check run. Instructors have generally been members of our school for years, and as situations arise they are mentored on how to handle them.

    [/quote]Do you hold an insurance policy for liability, LLC, or incorporate?
    If you insure, what are you limits?
    If you LLC or incorporate, what is excluded in your verbiage?[/quote]

    I cannot answer this with any specificity, as I don't know the details.

    The big thing for me is that an adult shouldn't ever be alone with a child. This is why I always want at least one parent present if I'm teaching by myself.
     
  5. CB Jones

    CB Jones Senior Master

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    Just remember....liability waivers do not protect you if the party can still prove negligence on your part.
     
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  6. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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    On coaching courses here we are taught that to tie a child's belt after asking permission ( from the child as you are touching them) you turn the child to face others, stand at the back of them and tie the belt that way so your actions can be plainly visible.

    Changing facilities… children come in their Gis, adults may come changed or will change in the room, once the children have gone. Our students being military are used to communal (and unisex) changing, they simply aren't bothered.

    There are many safeguarding issues that are addressed such as the taking of photographs, what to do if you suspect abuse, what action to take if a child confides something to you that requires an action, what to do if a parents turned up under the influence to drive a child home, etc etc. These are all addressed here not just in martial arts but for anything that has contact with children by appropriate training by the proper authorities.

    Secutiry itself is not a problem for us, we are behind the wire and have to show ID to the armed guards at the gate to get in, we are all very security aware even the children.
     
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  7. WaterGal

    WaterGal Master of Arts

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    Alright, so, we're specifically discussing a martial arts school's liability for sexual misconduct committed by a staff member against a child, right? That's what the other thread was about. NOT about liability in case of accidental injury.

    There are a number of things you can do to protect yourself from having to face this situation. Here's what we do:

    1) We have a policy of having two staff members onsite during all kids classes.
    2) We have security cameras that record all public areas of the school.
    3) All employees must be background-checked.
    4) We have a general guideline to ask a student's permission before touching them to make a positional adjustment or help them with a move, and when doing so, to touch as far from the torso as possible (i.e. touching the foot is better than touching the thigh).

    You can also buy liability insurance that's specifically to protect you in case of sexual misconduct claims. I think, if we (my other half and I) grow our school to the point of being able to be there less and have people running the school some days without us, I'll want to invest in that. Because no matter how much you think you know somebody, and however many precautions you take, stuff can still happen.
     
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  8. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    I don’t teach kids now, so I’ll share what policies were at the school where I did.

    Everyone used the same (gender-specific) changing rooms. Nobody came in uniform (dojo rules). The “staff” was limited - often only one instructor for 2 youth classes in a row.
    There was no specific drop-off procedure.

    All of that was unchanged for all the years I was around.
     
  9. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    I think it's both, but the topic has gravitated towards protecting kids.
     
  10. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    Why didn't people come in uniform?
    Why the limit on instructors to only teach 2 classes in a row?
     
  11. dvcochran

    dvcochran Senior Master

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    You are correct that I extended this post off a post about sexual misconduct. It is certainly in the vein of my question but not necessarily exclusive.

    I was not aware of sexual misconduct specific coverage. It is covered within our comprehensive liability policies. Are you incorporated? Do you know what is excluded?

    I believe we have items 1, 2, & 3 well covered. We are as thorough as possible about discussing contact and the fact that it is tactile training. I feel the formality of our pre-enrollment meeting and the implied consent on our application covers us pretty well. We have had it tested twice in injury claims and it held up.
    Honestly, I cannot imagine having to stop and remember to get someone's permission to touch them during a class. I am way too wrapped up in trying to teach and my pea brain would forget.

    While we do have black belts and sometimes adult red belts help teach we NEVER have anyone teaching one on one (or two) alone.

    I think it is more about mitigating the risk instead of being concerned about it. Being very selective about who is in leadership roles, training, pre-class/course coverage and signed consent are all good starts. The environment within your program is the imperative. IMHO
     
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  12. JR 137

    JR 137 Senior Master

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    Something to keep in mind...

    A background check won’t necessarily tell you if someone’s a child molestor, sex offender, etc. It’ll only tell you if the person’s been accused and/or convicted. And it certainly won’t tell you if they’re going to in the future. Plenty of teachers, police officers, judges, et al have turned out to be child molestors. And they were all thoroughly vetted.

    But background checks are a great idea because they show you’ve done at least some due diligence. And even better than a one-time background check is a check that continually monitors and alerts you if there’s a problem. I’m not sure if that’s available for businesses or not; it is used for teachers, law enforcement, etc. When I was a teacher, if I was accused of something like that, my employer would be notified automatically and immediately. Same for my state trooper brother in law.
     
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  13. dvcochran

    dvcochran Senior Master

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    Agree. We do background checks annually. It is a state requirement for our summer programs so they are a win-win. Works for the summer programs where we have more instructors and throughout the year for regular classes.
    I do think they are a good part of setting the expectation and standard for a MA school environment.
     
  14. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    The Y does a background check, but I honestly do not know how often (if at all) they repeat them.
     
  15. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    This is where the concept of defense-in-depth comes into play. You have more than one rule in place to prevent things from happening.
    1. Background checks to catch someone with a documented history before they come in
    2. Rules about not leaving children alone with an adult
    3. Visibility, such as cameras or windows, so that interactions are documented and/or visible to the public
    4. The owner must keep the staff accountable, and must rely on the staff to be held accountable
    These rules don't just protect the students and staff from assault. They also protect the staff from fraudulent accusations.
     
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  16. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm not sure where the rule about not wearing uniforms started, but I suspect it had to do with the NY neighborhood the first NGA dojo in the US was in, though it's also possible the rule existed in Hokkaido - I've never had a chance to sit down with Richard Bowe and ask. Some schools (including that one) still have that rule.

    And there wasn't a restriction on number of classes - I was speaking of a limitation of available instructors. The most kids classes that would occur in a row was 2 (before adult classes started), and often there were no other senior students or instructors at the school for those classes, unless someone showed up early before the adult classes.
     
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  17. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    I followed the vein of discussion being about kids. I'll fill in about the basic liability. At the current dojo where I teach, they have a waiver that gets signed (I use their waiver, so students don't have to sign 2 different ones). I don't know Patsy's (the CI) approach, so I can only speak to mine. I don't require folks watch a class before attending, but I do give a rough description of what we do before they sign up. I currently only have 2 students (8 AM on Saturdays turns out to be unpopular :p), and neither watched a class before joining. One has been with me nearly a year, and started by attending a seminar I offered at the dojo. The other signed up for both Karate and Aikido after talking with the CI.
     
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  18. ShortBridge

    ShortBridge 2nd Black Belt

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    Not only is Rat teaching us all about martial arts that he hasn't studied, but now he's giving legal advice too. Awesome.
     
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  19. WaterGal

    WaterGal Master of Arts

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    We use karateinsurance.com, and with them, sexual misconduct insurance is an additional rider you have to buy. We are incorporated, yes.

    It just takes some practice.

    Agreed!
     
  20. WaterGal

    WaterGal Master of Arts

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    And it says that to both your students and your potential new hires. I think it says: we're paying attention, so don't try any funny business. Same with security cameras - they're as much about sending a message as anything.123
     
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